Review of under-18s batons ban

Prison officers have called for protection against violent inmates
Prison officers have called for protection against violent inmates

The government is to review the use of batons in young offenders institutions (YOIs) in England and Wales.

Current legislation prevents staff from using batons to control children under 18, but the Prison Officers Association has called for the rule to be overhauled to provide more protection against a rising number of assaults by inmates.

Glyn Travis, the organisation's assistant general secretary, told BBC Radio Five Live that officers needed help to curb institutional violence.

"The injuries vary from broken noses, compressed fractures of cheekbones, fractured eye sockets, ears being bitten off, pens being shoved through people's faces, slashes," Mr Travis said.

"There is a serious violent problem within the criminal justice system and we believe it's out of control."

Figures from the Howard League for Penal Reform showed that of the 18,000 assaults in YOIs between 2003 and 2005, 2,500 were attacks on members of staff.

However, Frances Crook, director of the league said that increasing baton use was "always the wrong answer".

"There are huge numbers of young men in prison with very serious mental health problems and threatening them with batons is completely inappropriate," she explained.

"These are very disturbed young people who harm themselves a lot."

A Prison Service spokesman commented: "It has been prison policy for a number of years that batons are not routinely used in the juvenile estates.

However, he confirmed that "ministers have agreed to a review which is expected to start in the autumn".


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